Two X-ray observatories, the NASA observatory Chandra and the ESA mission XMM-Newton, provide powerful new diagnostics of the “hot universe”. In this article I review recent X–ray observations of the evolving universe. First indications of the warm/hot intergalactic medium, tracing out the large scale structure of the universe, have been obtained lately in sensitive Chandra and XMM-Newton high resolution absorption line spectroscopy of bright blazars. High resolution X–ray spectroscopy and imaging also provides important new constraints on the physical condition of the cooling matter in the centers of clusters, requiring major modifications to the standard cooling flow models. One possibility is, that the supermassive black hole in the giant central galaxies significantly energizes the gas in the cluster.
XMM-Newton and Chandra low resolution spectroscopy detected significant Fe Kα absorption features in the spectrum of the ultraluminous, high redshift lensed broad absorption line QSO APM 08279+5255, yielding new insights in the outflow geometry and in particular indicate a supersolar Fe/O ratio. Chandra high resolution imaging spectroscopy of the nearby ultraluminous infrared galaxy and obscured QSO NGC 6240 for the first time gave evidence of two active supermassive black holes in the same galaxy, likely bound to coalesce in the course of the ongoing major merger in this galaxy.
Deep X–ray surveys have shown that the cosmic X-ray background (XRB) is largely due to the accretion onto supermassive black holes, integrated over the cosmic time. These surveys have resolved more than 80 % of the 0.1–10 keV X-ray background into discrete sources. Optical spectroscopic identifications show that the sources producing the bulk of the X-ray background are a mixture of obscured (type–1) and unobscured (type–2) AGNs, as predicted by the XRB population synthesis models. A class of highly luminous type–2 AGN, so called QSO-2s, has been detected in the deepest Chandra and XMM-Newton surveys. The new Chandra AGN redshift distribution peaks at much lower redshifts (z ≈ 0.7) than that based on ROSAT data, indicating that the evolution of Seyfert galaxies occurs at significantly later cosmic time than that of QSOs.